The worst thing that can be done to poor people in America is to ignore them. I'm afraid there are some who think that the poor should work harder and fend for themselves. It's kind of a "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" attitude. I do believe each individual and family has to work hard at pulling themselves out of poverty. But that expectation is not a plan. If that is all we are doing, then we are ignoring the poor.
An equally bad idea is to give the poor everything. I think history would show that this approach tends to foster long term, multi generational poverty. The welfare reforms of the 1990s, as I remember them, required work on the part of recipients. This is a reasonable approach.
There are two things that we could provide to poor people that would have a tremendous impact on poverty. The first is free daycare for single mothers. Too many single mothers are forced to stay at home with their child(ren) because daycare is too expensive. Of course, if they are not working they are likely on public assistance. Free daycare would get them out into the workforce or into college or finishing high school. That would be a free program that I believe would pay off both for the poor and for society in general.
The second thing we can provide is free contraception to the poor. Being a single parent may be the primary cause of poverty. If we can help prevent pregnancies among young single women, it would keep them from falling into a state of chronic poverty.
These two programs would be expensive, but I believe they would impact our economy by having more people in the workforce, more taxpayers and fewer on traditional welfare.